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Watchismo Times

THE WATCHISMO TIMES WATCH BLOG A reliquary of obscure timepieces from bygone eras as well as the cutting-edge watch designs of today.

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Swiss Digital Envy - 1974 Sicura Instalite Electro-mechanical Jump Hour

Swiss Digital Envy - 1974 Sicura Instalite Electro-mechanical Jump Hour
Swiss mechanical watches were faced with a huge challenge by the growing popularity of digital LED & LCD displays of the seventies. Taking an older concept called the Jumping Hour or Direct Read (rotating discs with numbers printed on them instead of hands) and adapting it for watches like the Amida Digitrend with its reverse-reflected sideviewing LED imitation or the Sicura Instalite featured here. The Sicura was the first mechanical jump hour watch with a separate electric lighting function - batteries powered the lamp and manual winding for the watch. Pushing the top button lit up the display as well as three oddly placed portholes on the space-age case.

Available-->Link

Swiss Digital Envy - 1974 Sicura Instalite Electro-mechanical Jump HourSwiss Digital Envy - 1974 Sicura Instalite Electro-mechanical Jump HourSwiss Digital Envy - 1974 Sicura Instalite Electro-mechanical Jump Hour

Related posts;
Jump Hours


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Diamond Skull Nixon Rotolog for Barneys NY

Diamond Skull Nixon Rotolog for Barneys NYYou're not gonna see me spotlight too much Bling here at The Watchismo Times...But this is a bit different. It's the Diamond Rotolog by Nixon. Their retro watch collection that borrows heavily from the 1970s Direct Read/Jump Hour style display (As I write about often here-->Link) and famously for their wood series which feature inlaid bamboo and teak.

Nixon has been featuring skull-print Rotologs exclusively at Barney's New York in recent months but now they stepped it up a carat. These are encrusted with 764 white diamonds and 1,087 black diamonds for the skull pattern, a stainless steel case, Japanese Quartz movement and LED lamp for lighting the spinning disc display.

LINK

Diamond Skull Nixon Rotolog for Barneys NYRotolog Wood Series



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Watchismo's Timewarp for QP Magazine - Vintage Sideview Displays


My new column, 'Watchismo's Timewarp' for British QP Magazine (Issue #23) is now available.

For the series premiere, I write about one of my favorite species, the Sideview display like the 1958 Patek Philippe 'Cobra' prototype below. Its radical use of digital and graphic rollers was likely too ahead of its time. Originally featured --> Link



Others featured in the article;

1970 Amida Digitrend

1974 Jaz Derby Swissonic

1976 Benrus Pop-up LED

Vintage Solar Powered Watches - A Partly Cloudy History

Evolution of the Sundial


1. Synchronar - Conceived in the early sixties and first produced in 1968, the first Solar watch ever was invented by the reclusive inventor Roger Riehl. Solar panels on the top with a sideview LED display. Heavily debated within a microcosm of vintage watch collectors as the first digital watch ever. That distinction is commonly given to the 1970's Pulsar LED. 

2. Nepro - 1975 LED with raised display and backside solar panels.


3. Uranus - "This is one of the earliest LED watches in existence. It is one of the very earliest "wearable" wristwatches made by Uranus (approx. 1971) and one of only a few made (hugely expensive to build). It actually predates the Pulsar and launched Uranus into a patent fight with Hamilton (Uranus lost). The thing that makes this watch unique is that it does not use an LSI (large scale integrated chip) but instead is made up of discrete logic and driver chips using hundreds of wire bonds to connect them up. It is truly a packaging marvel. The display is only hours and minutes. The face is divided in half horizontally with the LED in the upper half, the lower half being composed of solar cells in a fan pattern to supplement the battery, all in a gold filled case." by Guy Ball


4. Sicura LCD - 1976 LCD with innovative solution of putting solar panels on the side of the watch.

Sicura Ad


5. Sicura Analog - 1978 Analog version of the same watch.



6. Junghans 'Mega Solar' - 1990's radio-controlled, PVD-coated wristwatch with solar cell, date and integrated radio receiver from one of the most accurate clocks in the world - the Caesium Time Base at Germany’s National Institute of Natural Engineering and Sciences.


7. Citizen Crystron - 1976 "This was the first solar-powered analog wristwatch. It conformed to the conventional design of most analog watches except for the four square gray panels that take up most of the face. This watch began Citizen’s long-term commitment to solar powered watches, which has culminated in the very successful Eco-Drive line of watches." by Soluhr


8. Calcron & Louis Erard Calculator Watches - Mid to late seventies solar calculator watches with side panels. The non-solar Calcron is believed to be the first ever wrist-calculator watch made as originally featured here-->Link


9. Cristalonic 'Solar Quartz' by GmbH - 1980's LCD with an asymmetric black plastic case.

Cristalonic Advertisements


10. Lorus - 1980's solar LCD. A division of Seiko.

Sadly, development of the modern light-powered watch, like the Citizen Eco-Drive, eliminated the need for innovative visual configurations as solar panels now absorb light through traditional watch dials. It was fun while it lasted...

DKN-Why??? Inspired by or Stolen by?

I'm all for vintage-inspired modern wristwatches - and it is true when they say, "Imitation is the highest form of flattery", but c'mon!

From what little I know, DKNY could be licensing the old designs for reproduction and quite honestly, the original vintage models are so obscure, nobody other than a few geeks like me would care. The 'magic' of the original models just can't be replicated, both the Heuer Manhattan and Zenith Time-Command will retain their certain 'Je ne sais qua' as vintage sensibility and quality is difficult to truly replicate.

But on the other hand, bringing interesting designs for enthusiasts with lower budgets is always appreciated.




Blockwork Clockworks

Two modern LED block clocks. The Jonas Damon independent cube LED alarm clock. You can stack, align, or zig-zag them however you want.

The Kouji Iwasaki designed wood block clock. The LED digits shine through a thin veneer of wood bright enough to be seen. 


And if those aren't big enough for you, or you're legally blind, check out the 12 foot long self-setting GPS LED wall clock built by Spark Fun Electronics

French Digital Jump Hour Watch Circa 1830


You think your digital watch is old? Try this antique sucker pushing 175 years. 140 years earlier than what we commonly think of as the earliest digital watches. Circa 1830's French 18k champleve enamel jump hour digital pocket watch by Blondeau, watchmaker to the King.

Napoleon could have owned this. Perhaps this is what he was holding in his vest pocket all that time? ...because he loved it so dearly? I can relate. Some watches make me wanna just touch them all the time too. (Napoleon died in 1821 but pretend with me, ok?)


Close-up of the dial - engraved with bugs & birds!


Whatthefuckwatch by Tokyoflash Japan

Tokyoflash has always brought us great gadget watches flexing new timetelling muscles but this time, you'll rip flesh trying to determine how late you are. The all stainless steel 'Biohazard' Alien Detection Watch has an advanced multi-color LCD display and is summed up like this;
  • Top row - 12 Helix bars, each lit for the hours of the day
  • Bottom row - Blue blocks represent 5 minute increments, green are 1 minute each.
  • The animated 'Alien DNA' calculation in the middle determines the date by the percentage shown - 12.04% = December 4th





Swiss Digital Envy - 1974 Sicura Instalite Electro-mechanical Jump HourDiamond Skull Nixon Rotolog for Barneys NYWatchismo's Timewarp for QP Magazine - Vintage Sideview DisplaysA CLOCKWORK ORANGE Vintage Solar Powered Watches - A Partly Cloudy HistoryDKN-Why??? Inspired by or Stolen by?Blockwork ClockworksHomemade Pong WatchFrench Digital Jump Hour Watch Circa 1830Whatthefuckwatch by Tokyoflash Japan

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